Judge Orders Lockup; Says Shoplifters Should Not Benefit from COVID-19 Changes

Fearing that shoplifters may take advantage of the potential for summons over arrest, Porter Superior Court Judge David Chidester issued an order that any out-of-county theft defendants directed to his court should be held without bond at the county jail until their initial hearing before him.

“It was just my opinion that shoplifters during this pandemic crisis should not benefit from a ‘catch and release’ or summons bonding procedure,” he said. Chidester said he continues to work Monday through Friday and is able to see defendants each morning through a teleconferencing system between his courtroom and the Porter County jail.

“My message to those arrested in Valparaiso, Chesterton, Kouts and Hebron stores is: Do not take advantage of this crisis in our stores and shoplift items,” Chidester said. “If you cannot pay for it, leave it alone.” Chidester’s ruling, which applies to his court alone, says it is a deviation from the sheriff’s rule involving misdemeanor arrests during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Porter County Sheriff Dave Reynolds said Friday, “I have absolutely no issue with that whatsoever. I agree with him.” While officer discretion has the current inmate level at the county jail at 245, which is about 100 less than usual, Reynolds agrees that out-of-county residents should not be allowed to take advantage of the preventive efforts underway… NWI Times

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